What is “Ionized Water”?

From Ian Blair Hamilton, Founder, Alkaway

It’s really a meaningless term. Yes, it is possible for water to contain dissolved ions (electrically-charged atoms or molecules), but that’s something else again. Almost all waters we find in nature acquire ions such as calcium and bicarbonate as they pass through our wear down rocks and sediments. Even the purest rainwater gains some hydrogen- and bicarbonate ions as it passes through carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Pure water consists as we all know – almost entirely of H2O molecules. These are loosely bound in a network-like structure, but please, don’t even mention ‘microclustered’ one of the favourite sales terms used by MLM water ionizer selllers.  Individual molecules in water are serious ‘swingers’. They are constantly changing partners. Water molecules exhibit a very slight tendency to dissociate (“ionize”) into hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions: (H2O > H+ + OH-) but this reaction is severely limited by the fact that the reverse of this reaction is much more rapid, so that on the average, only about two out of every billion H2O molecules is dissociated. And we are talking about reforming and ‘swinging’ fast.. a matter of femtoseconds. Changing so fast, any idea of structure is a bit of a laugh in scientific circles. No electrical device or chemical additive is capable of increasing these ion concentrations in pure water above this very minute level which is so small that for most practical purposes pure water can be considered to be ion-free, as evidenced by the fact that it will not conduct an electric current.

ionsAcidic and alkaline water
All water and all aqueous solutions contain both H+ and OH– ions. If the quantity of H+ exceeds that of the OH-, the water is termed acidic. If there are more OH- ions than H+, the water is alkaline. Pure water, containing equal numbers of both ions, is termed neutral.

Chemists express the degree of acidity or alkalinity on the pH scale. This runs from  0 to 14. Acidic solutions have pH values of less than 7, alkaline solutions more than 7. Pure water, being neutral, has a pH of exactly 7. Each unit on the pH scale represents a hundred-fold change in the ratio of the two kinds of ions; for example, if the pH is 8, there are 100 times as many OH- ions than H+ ions (that is, [H+] = 10-8, [OH-] = 10-6.)

Regardless of whether a water is acidic or alkaline, it always contains equal numbers of positive and negative electric charges. Since ‘alkaline’ water contains an excess of OH- ions, it must also contain some other kind of positive ion in addition to H+ in order to equalize the opposite charges. This extra positive ion is almost always a metal ion such as sodium, calcium or magnesium. Similarly, an acidic water must always contain negative ions in addition to OH-; the most common of these is bicarbonate HCO3-. This means that waters whose pH differs from 7 are never “pure” in the chemical sense.

“Ionized water” is one of many products and panaceas that the wonky wellness industry flogs presents to the very large segment of the general public that lacks the scientific background to distinguish scientific fact from pseudo scientific hype when the two are closely intertwined. What most of these treatment devices actually sell are grossly overpriced electrical devices that purport to produce “ionized” and alkaline water by the process of electrolysis.

The bottom line when it comes to ionized water…

“Ionized water” is nothing more than sales fiction. It is meaningless to chemists.
Most potable water is simply too unconductive to undergo significant electrolysis, and that’s why an electric water ionizer needs water with a fair amount of mineral ions in it; to facilitate electrolysis. To suimmarize, pure water can never be alkaline or acidic, nor can it be made so by electrolysis.

Groundwater containing metal ions such as calcium and magnesium can be rendered slightly alkaline by electrolysis. A pH test will show a high pH, but this does not correlate to higher levels of alkaline minerals in the water. One could say it’s a sort of ‘artificial’ alkalinity.
The idea that one must consume alkaline water to neutralize the effects of acidic foods is a little ambitious. The body is subject to and uses many factors to maintain its blood pH level of 7.35. If the water we drink has alkaline minerals in it, of course these minerals will be added to the body’s storehouse (buffer) of alkaline minerals, just as alkaline minerals in our food are also added. On the other side of the equation, we have a 24 hour pH balancing system. It’s called the breath.

Most claims about the health benefits of drinking alkaline water are just not supported by any volume of scientific evidence. Yes, as we have said, it has an effect. But the effect is so negligible that if you had to drink acidic rain water then nothing really terrible will ensue – contrary to what the electric ionizer vendors will tell you.

The most negative point of most electrolysis devices is their big box store-basic filtration. It’s simply amazing that people buy a $4000 water ionizer and get a vary basic filter. They are generally worthless for filtering water for health enhancement, removal of common impurities, disinfection, and scale control.

So.. is there an alternative?

From what we’ve explained so far, the major drawbacks of electrolysis water ionizers are:

  • Price
  • Filtration
  • Ability to alkalize (add alkaline minerals to water)

I should add to this list the problem of excess calcium in source water. Vast areas of the world have ‘hard’ water supplies and the biggest name and most expensive water ionizers need weekly 20 minute water-wasting cleanses to maintain performance. Only certain electric units have made any advance in this area.

But there’s one other amazing fact the big name water ionizer companies are still ignoring. it’s a design ‘flaw’ that turns out to be a design benefit. And – although it’s hard to believe – the big companies resisted it strenuously,. even making legal threats to the discoverer of this amazing benefit. To learn more about the ‘Untold Truth About Alkaline Water’ click here to read our report on the Hydrogen revolution.

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